Thursday, January 31, 2019

The Flying Scotsman Visits Kingston, 1970

While on a North American tour, The London North Eastern Railway's Flying Scotsman arrived in Kingston on September 28, 1970, open to visits on the 29th before departing on the 30th. The 1923-built Gresley-designed speedster's display train was spotted for public display along Kingston's waterfront, in Centennial/Confederation Park between Kingston City Hall and Shoal Tower. This was the swansong of active trackage in front of City Hall.My Dad, being a fan of things English and things steam, made a point to visit the display train with us (our admission tickets for Sept. 28 - below). 
Millionaire Alan Pegler wrote a cheque for the equivalent of $8,000 to purchase, then with another $200,000+ worth of restoration the A3 4-6-2 was an antelope on American rails. Brought by sea from Liverpool to Boston, a train of exhibition cars with crew compartments and a pub car made its way to Kingston. We visited at least twice, though it was either raining, about to rain or just rained in the damp September twilight. See one sunlit photo at end of this post!
Insouciant Scotsman fan (above) with City Hall to left and the Holiday Inn background right. Whistle and bell were front-and-centre on the smokebox. At the time, my Dad was shooting black-and-white prints and colour slides, both with Kodak 126 Instamatics! Front-end appurtenances such as bell and headlight were added due to North American regulations:
My siblings and I pose for a flash photo in front of that famous nameplate. My brother with Instamatic in hand!
Siblings on the City Hall side. The Flying Scotsman would back quietly out of Centennial Park on the 30th, again rain-drenched, reaching CN's Kingston Subdivision mainline to head to Toronto and points beyond.
Hey! Is that a boat?
Dad poses with two of us, camera bag-bedecked, also with Instamatic in hand:
More flash photography!

December 2019 update: after posting the above photo, actually a photocopy of the original Whig coverage, I was fortunate to find photographer George Lilley's original negative image in the Queen's University Archives:
The Kingston Whig-Standard gushed, on the train's arrival:
"With her green painted boiler gleaming gaily in a rain shower, the Flying Scotsman glided in to Ontario Street, paid her respects with a toot of her whistle, and came to a gentle stop at Confederation Park. Moving almost noiselessly except for the chuff-chuff of her steam cylinders and the high-pitched toot of her whistle, the crack British train made the trip from Brockville in a little over an hour."
A toast to the Mayor, with Mr. Pegler's two children in the bar (above). And on her departure, more gushing - actually name-dropping, 
"Guests boarding the Scotsman at Kingston, for points west, included Mrs. C.A. DaCosta of Westport, daughter of Sen. James Murdock, Prime Minister Mackenzie King's first minister of labor; Commodore J. Plomer; K.W. Jeshel [sic], engineer for the Public Utilities Commission; and D.A. Redmond, chief librarian at Queen's University. One of the last to leave the rain-soaked park was Edward Phipps-Walker, long-time friend of Mr. Pegler, who had helped to smooth many of the local arrangements."
Sunny with the Spirit of Sir John A. (above). Also taken in sunshine, these two photos taken by Bill Reid, as purchased from Liz Reid:
Not sure what that gas can is for! The cow-catcher is near the foot of Clarence Street (above) The  1925-built Pullman car Lydia and boat-tailed Edwardian observation car at the foot of Brock Street (below). Its interior replicates a typical English pub. The car was latterly operated on the scenic Inverness-Kyle of Lochalsh run. CN's water-edge trackage is gone:

At Montreal in the company of a CN Century, Turbo and fantrip engine 6218 (above). At Spadina (below) in the company on CNR 6218 and some other steam - steam generators that is! 
Thanks to my brother Dave for scanning the well-preserved colour slides.

Lots o' links:
Running extra...

Vested interest. Thanks to Dustin for this gift of a hi-vis CP safety vest and lantern. Something to wear while snowshovelling. The only bank I get to these days - the snowbank!

Thanks to Edd Fuller of The Trackside Photographer for publishing my musings today on his engaging website! In the list of contributor bios, mine is alphabetically between Edd and Jeff Garrison - a Presbyterian minister. Good company!

My Hanley Spur home layout does not 'run' quite as far as Confederation Park. There is a nebulous CN spur that reaches Canadian Locomotive Co. (CLC) after serving the Wellington and Place d'Armes freight shed. The CP terminates at the Sowards coal trestle. I find the prospect of building City Hall and/or the CLC to be way too daunting, as is water-modelling! From Kingston Rail:

Friday, January 25, 2019

Wintertime at Mile 174, January 2019

On  January 18, I managed to temporarily escape from a shopping junket to the north-end outlets in Kingston - Dalton Avenue near Highway 401. One-dollar coffee and the signal gantry at Queens East interlocking, at the end of Rigney Street, set the scene on this snowy Friday afternoon (top photo). The first train through at 1155 was VIA No 63: 6404-3475-3308-3359F (F=Future wrap)-3367-3354R (R=Ren):
Then at 1212, CN No 309 was running late, emerging from under the Division Street overpass led by CN 2895-new 3168:
Second unit CN 3168 sports the Aboriginal nose logo:

IC 3810 has spray-painted reporting marks, one of four IC, ATW and COER cars carrying bagged nickel loads for Fort Saskatchewan, AB (above) and pressure-unloading cars including CAIX 323042-TILX 31463-31425:
 A long way from Meh-hee-co, it's Ferromex gondola FXE 912801 on the tail-end:
Eight minutes later, VIA No 45 trundles by trailing snow: 916F-3365F-33xxR-3366F-3361F-3453-6425. Out of focus maybe, but I'd seen this consist with three Future wraps and no photo twice already, and this was my opportunity to get a photo before the consist is broken up!
Six minutes later, at 1226, it was CN No 305 with 2801-2231-8943:
Three colourful potash cars pass under the westward-facing signals: CEFX 302005-POTX 1575 and 2643:
Carbon anyone? CABX 4705601-CCX 1089-ECQX 57511, followed shortly thereafter by more empty ACF carbon-carrying covered hoppers CABX 80020 and TILX 487199:
Mid-train DPU 2249 passes as the train starts to slow for a signal at Queens West:
Stopped by a signal for about five minutes, this rusty ACFX covered hopper patiently posed, preceded some centre-beam bulkhead flat cars of lumber and twenty autoracks on the tail-end. Rusty? I'll go call Jerome!

Running extra...

Being trackside in this winter weather always reminds me of my railfanning roots. The cold didn't settle in your toes or frigidize your fingers. Or maybe it did and it just wasn't important. Cold weather in February, 1976? Low temperature time trackside:
 L.C. Gagnon photo:
But it's OK to stay inside, too. Working on my HO scale Hanley Spur layout:
 Paving Montreal Street.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

VIA's Head End Power Program

As early as 1981, VIA had considered following Amtrak’s example of switching from steam heat for its passenger cars to electric heat.  At that time, the cost per car was estimated at $200,000, plus the cost of electric generating cars or locomotives equipped with Head End Power (HEP). To-be-converted ex-CP coaches 102 and 112 are behind the power - 6439-6303 on VIA No 62 on April 27, 1991 (top photo) with my mini-me railfan!


In 1987, VIA announced plans for a massive HEP rebuilding of its steam-heated stainless steel fleet. The $90 million contract was awarded in September 1988. All design and engineering work was to be done in-house by VIA, with some cars requiring over one thousand engineering drawings!  New air conditioning, electrical appliances, water systems including showers in sleepers, fire protection, wiring, interior coverings and rebuilt trucks were some of the upgrades these 35 year-old cars received.  Montreal’s AMF Technotransport, a CN subsidiary located in the Pointe St Charles shops, rebuilt the cars, which were also renumbered: 600-series baggage cars became 8600’s, 100-series coaches became 8100’s, 500-series Skylines became 8500’s, 16500-series diners became 8400’s, 14300-series Manor sleepers became 8300’s, 14200-series Chateau sleepers became 8200’s, and 15500-series Park cars became 8700’s. Renumbered 8101 as part of the HEP rebuilding program, ex-CP coach (101) is on VIA No 60 at Kingston on September 2, 2011:


The first planned consist: 8601-8104-8118-8518-Burton Manor-Carleton Manor-Dunsmuir Manor-Empress-Chateau Bienville-Chateau Radisson-Assiniboine Park. A guard consist of spare cars would be rebuilt next: 8604-8117-8515-Elgin Manor-Fairholme-Chateau Levis-Tremblant Park.

As consists were completed, they were placed in service.  Early plans to rebuild 45 ex-CN CC&F blue & yellow cars were shelved, in light of the devastating 1990 cuts.  While it was seen as a knock against the cars’ steel construction and subsequent corrosion of the car bodies, these cars went on to extended careers with other railways and private operators. Eventually, other stainless steel cars were bought and converted to HEP to 'replace' these ex-CN cars in the VIA fleet. VIA acquired, but did not convert to HEP, four baggage cars (planned as VIA 618-621), 1 dome-obs (15519) and seven dome coaches (518-524).

An HEP display train for viewing debuted on May 18, 1990:  8120-8515-Elgin Manor-Fairholme-Chateau Levis-Tremblant Park, with coach 8117 released for cold-weather testing in August, 1989 by Ottawa's National Research Council. Over 1,000 miles of road-testing was required prior to acceptance of the cars by VIA. VIA 8117's road testing lasted from December 1989 to May 1990, then the car was returned for improvements before final aceptance in August 1990. Here's 8117 on No 63 at Belleville on April 30, 1990, also seen on No 62 on May 8:
Arriving in Toronto from Montreal on October 6, 1990, the HEP display train consist: 6443-6436-8604-Jarvis Manor-Chateau Levis-8104-8515-Empress-Elgin Manor-Tremblant Park.  Departing Toronto, spare cars 8118 and Chateau Bienville were added behind the power and later set out in Winnipeg.  Jarvis Manor and Chateau Levis were used as crew sleepers, cut in behind 8604.  The train travelled to Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton and Jasper, reaching Vancouver on October 20, 1990.


It was expected that one 11-car HEP consist would be in service in May 1991, three consists by June 1991, with program completion in May 1992.  In fact, three consists and spares, 47 cars in total, were completed by July 1991.  Five HEP consists were in service on the Canadian by January 1992.

Departures of VIA Nos 1 and 2 with HEP consists grew from two to four monthly through the months of November 1990-March 1991, five and six from April 1991 to June 1991, eight and nine from July 1991 to November 1991, and all HEP consists as of November 28, 1991.  Ever seen this many passengers trying to board a Park car? It's Brian Schuff's photo of  HEP refurbished Banff Park on the CBC anniversary train at Winnipeg in September, 2002!
The first HEP consist on the Gaspe run departed Montreal on April 6, 1992: 6439-8608-8115-8102-Annapolis-Chateau Lasalle-Chateau Lemoyne.  A second consist departed Montreal on September 24, 1992.  One HEP consist was in operation by January 1992 on the Skeena.  By April, all Skeena consists were HEP-equipped.  Steam-heated equipment previously used on the Skeena was moved from Vancouver east on CN train No 218 on May 14, 1992: 15441, 15475, 15486 and 9483 to Winnipeg; 5595, 5596-5621-5627 to Toronto; 9475, 9479, 9481 and 9482 to storage in Toronto; and 501, 503 and 504 for HEP conversion, the last three Skylines to be converted.   The last HEP car was accepted by VIA on June 21, 1994.


The HEP (eventually referred to as HEP1) program involved the rebuilding of 24 stainless steel cars not part of CP’s Canadian.  Baggage cars 8618-8623 and coaches 8130-8147 were built for U.S. railroads such as NYC, RF&P and UP and purchased by VIA.  Ex-UP baggage car 8618 is on VIA No 55 at Kingston on September 2, 2011 (above). Rebuilding of these cars began at Septa Rail in 1992, with coaches completed by AMF Technotransport after Septa’s bankruptcy.  The baggage cars were accepted by VIA between October 23, 1992 and May 31, 1993.  All HEP1 cars were given a solid blue letterboard above the windows, with the coaches at least intended for long-distance service. 

Interestingly, when the last conventional Corridor trains were converted to LRC consists in mid-1991, ex-CP baggages 612, 613 and 615 were modified with pass-through HEP cables for heat and light, intended for baggage service on train Nos 62/63 and 70/79/172.  This allowed the baggage cars to operate next to the locomotive.  HEP baggage car 8605 also operated on Corridor trains.  Pass-through cable-equipped 615 operated until its AMF rebuild scheduled for 1993. 


Announced in June 1992, this program involved the rebuilding of 33 cars with unique blue & yellow letterboard above the windows, at a cost of $57.8 million.  The contract was awarded in December 1992 and would result in 74-seat coaches and 56-seat first class cars with interiors similar to those of the LRC.  The cars, originally from SP and other U.S. railroads, were renumbered 4100-4125 and 4000-4006 respectively would replace ex-CN blue & yellow cars still in Corridor service.  Coaches 4123-4125 were converted to club cars in 2000, renumbered 4007-4009. The cars were stripped to their shells, many in Halifax, then moved to CN’s subsidiary AMF in Montreal. Interestingly, downsizing at VIA meant hat in-house engineering was no longer feasible for the HEP2 program.  Modern interiors were created by AMF and Stone Safety Corp., Coach & Car Inc. and Polatec Inc. Thirty-three pairs of trucks came from ex-CN blue & yellow cars. HEP2 coach  4109 is on VIA No 60 in September, 2011 (above).

HEP2 cars entered service beginning on April 28, 1995, with an HEP2 display train touring Toronto, London and Windsor in late-February 1996: 6405-4002-4104-4124(still waiting for its seats) and the last HEP2 car was delivered on March 25, 1996. 

Eventually a fleet of 78 cars was amassed between 1987 and 1993 with 57 cars actually rebuilt (24 HEP1 and 33 HEP2), 18 later sold and three still stored in Montreal.  VIA gave each car purchased from U.S. railroads a temporary three-digit number.  For a summary of the lineage of these cars, see the Canadian Trackside Guide.  I’ve seen photos of Southern Railway, Amtrak, and Chesapeake & Ohio cars taken in Halifax in the early 1990’s with crudely lettered “VIA” and three-digit numbers on their number plates.  What a sight!

The HEP rebuilding program took VIA's stainless steel fleet from sizzling steam-leakers to sleek silver serpentine streamliners.

Further reading:
  • VIA "HEPPED" FOR SUCCESS by Douglas N.W. Smith, Canadian Rail Passenger Review No.1, 1997.
  • REBUILDING THE DREAM by Douglas N.W. Smith, Canadian Rail Passenger Yearbook, 1995 Edition.
Running extra...this week in italics!

Watch for an upcoming post on Kingston's new Railfan Walking Trail!

Looking for some fun? Every time someone asks, 'How are you?' just say the following...."So Good!" and pause. I have found that 90% of people will then repeat exactly that, and say 'So Good!", either in a surprised or pensive tone. Fun!

The three most-overused phrases of the week:

  • 1. Let's walk that statement back.
  • 2. They just moved the goalposts.
  • 3. So good!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

VIA cars stored at Ottawa

In October, 1993, several pieces of then-surplus VIA equipment were moved from Montreal to Ottawa: VIA 757, 1347, 5594, 5736, 5754, 9654, Evanston and sleeper-dome-observations Algonquin Park, Riding Mountain Park and Sibley Park.  On June 11, 1996 Sibley Park is shown stored at Ottawa Union station (top photo) and then on March 3, 1997 with a weathered, wintered look:
The cars would be returned by VIA 6402 to VIA's Montreal Maintenance Centre in December, 1998 along with six RDC's that had been brought to Ottawa for storage. Algonquin Park appears in this post on VIA's scrapped stainless steel cars. The three Park cars were retired by VIA in the fall of 2001, with Algonquin Park going to Luxury Rail Car/Bill Harman; Riding Mountain Park sold to Harry Purnell/Adrian & Blissfield RR and Sibley Park acquired by the Canadian Railway Museum/Exporail, all dispositions in 2004. Riding Mountain Park is also shown on June 11, 1996:

NOVEMBER 2022 UPDATE: Riding Mountain Park has been acquired by the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society to undergo a $250,000 HVAC and electrical upgrade for potential use on their excursion train.
Acquired by VIA for possible Head-End Power conversion was ex-Rock Island "VIA 618" shown on June 11, 1996:
Arriving in Ottawa on VIA No 40 on February 7, 1994 but camera-less, I could only note the numbers and names of 15 of these stored cars! With numerous tracks not in use, Ottawa was a natural spot for VIA to stash cars awaiting disposition.
 Ex-CN baggage car 9667 was coupled to the ex-RI car:
Santa's slide scanner has been put to good use scanning these slides recently added to my collection. Watch for more nineties VIA in upcoming posts! 

Fine photos taken by Claudette Cousineau during a tour of VIA's MMC in 2003 and posted to social media show a RB&BB circus baggage car 621 and two other short former Rock Island baggage cars that were not ultimately part of VIA's HEP conversion.

Running extra...

Thanks to Lance Gleich and Bill Staiger for sending these festive Christmas cards my way:
Consistency. You can see it here or in the sidebar. The number of posts since Trackside Treasure was launched in September, 2008 (hence the reduced 18 posts for that year of inception!) Don't expect any giant leaps, nor gaps, in this very relaxed weekly posting schedule. This bunny just keeps going, and going...
WTF? Fun with F(oto)-E(diting):